Israel was now dispersed. Nebuchadnezzar had captured Judah along with their beloved capital city Jerusalem and had even destroyed their beautiful temple. The Northern Kingdom of Israel has been taken captive by Assyria some one-hundred years earlier. Only a remnant was now left in their land. I’m sure Ezekiel felt all was lost. He likely couldn’t see how any of God’s promises could now come true. Was all hope gone? God said no.
God gave Ezekiel another vision (Ek 37). A very strange vision. One could classify it as a nightmare – an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-type of nightmare. Before Ezekiel lay a dry valley filled with human bones. There were likely hundreds of them all thrown together, many of them now disconnected. I’m sure Ezekiel was bewildered. Why was he here? All of a sudden, the bones began to vibrate and then move! Do you think Ezekiel jumped backward? I think he did. I would have run! The bones then came together and formed skeletons. Sinews came upon the skeletons, and then flesh covered the sinews. Now, rather than a valley of bones, it was a valley of corpses. It just went from bizarre to morbid. Ezekiel then felt a wind. The wind blew over the corpses, and then into them! The corpses began to breathe! They then sat up and then stood to their feet. God had taken something totally worthless and made it purposeful.
It’s obvious this vision was about Israel. After all, God had just told Ezekiel he would make his Name great again and would cleanse Israel and put his Spirit within her (Ek 36:23-17). Isn’t that what the wind just did? Many have put history to Ezekiel’s vision: the bones represent Israel dispersed throughout the world, the formed skeletons represent the national pride of Israel which still remained in those dispersed which united them as a dispersed nation, the sinews represented the return of Jews to Israel from Russia, Poland, Germany, and central Europe in 1881-1948, the flesh covering the sinews represents the Tribulation period when Jews an Israelis from every nation will gather back to Israel, the wind entering the corpses represents Israel’s national conversion at Christ’s return, and the bodies living and standing to their feet represent Israel in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. Is this an accurate interpretation? It would seem reasonable. Either way, it was clear God was going to bring about a miracle in Israel’s future and make them his people again.
While this vision was for Ezekiel, God reiterated this message to him and told him to give a visual message to the people. Ezekiel took two sticks (Ek 37:15-23). On one he wrote, “belonging to Judah and all the Israelites associated with him.” On the other, he wrote, “belonging to Joseph and all the Israelites associated with him.” Joseph represented the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the two largest tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Ezekiel then joined the two sticks together into one whole. God stated he was going to join Judah and Israel back into one nation (Ek 37:22) by gathering them from wherever they had been scattered. They would no longer, and never again, be two nations. God also stated he would cleanse them and be their God.
Although many Jews did return to Israel from Babylonian captivity by the decree of Cyrus who conquered Babylon (2Ch 36:23), this promise was not completely fulfilled with this return. Not all Jews returned, and it did not include Israelis from the Northern Kingdom, although there were likely a few. Actually, most Jews stays in Babylon. So, what was God referring to?
God gives more information to Ezekiel. He states that the Messiah will rule the people and David will be his prince (Ek 37:24-25). Now, the term Prince is used later in Ezekiel, but this was not used in the same context here. Here, God is calling David both king and prince. Why? David will be the king of Israel and will be subservient to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the King of kings. God states the temple will be restored, everlasting peace will be established, and all nations will know God made Israel holy since his sanctuary will be among them forever (Ek 37:26-28). We know this must be future, even to us, because these things have not yet occurred.
God was giving Ezekiel hope. God was giving Israel hope. Israel’s hope is also our hope. Don’t you want to be part of it: something so grand it is hard to comprehend. Everyone wants to be part of something mind-blowing. You can. It just takes a little faith to put your trust in this coming Messiah and off yourself. Christ did it all for us. Reach out to him. He’s reaching out to you.
Millennium or Promised Kingdom – Its Beginning
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 3: Sukkot
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 5: Jubilee